My Story

I am originally from Chicago and have been invested in grassroots activism since high school. I have worked as a wilderness instructor for adjudicated youth and founded a non-profit organization that focused on dismantling mass incarceration. In my early twenties, I spent many years traveling through Latin America and Southern and West Africa, including a year as a post-baccalaureate Fulbright Scholar in South Africa. I have returned to the continent to continue researching and writing on Black liberation. In 2019-2020 I spent a year as a visiting scholar at Ashesi University in Ghana and was awarded a Fulbright Scholar Award to teach at the Ghana Institute of Management and Policy Administration (GIMPA).  My scholarly work focuses on the liberation of Black people. My first book, Racial Purity and Dangerous Bodies: Moral Pollution, Black Lives, and the Struggle for Justice (Fortress Press, June 2017) focuses on the religious and philosophical origins of the construct of race and Black Lives Matter protests against disproportionate policing and imprisonment. My current research project investigates Buddhist teachings and practices of teachers of African descent. I am completing a manuscript, Black Buddhists and the Black Radical Tradition: The Practice of Stillness in the Movement for Liberation (Forthcoming NYU Press, 2021). I am deeply invested in healing intergenerational trauma of Black, Indigenous, People of Color and continue to work in state prisons. I direct Warren Wilson’s partnership with a local women’s prison and coordinate an Inside-Out program, in which Warren Wilson offers credit-bearing classes to incarcerated students. My spouse and I have two children and live in West Asheville.

Rima Vesely-Flad
Formal Gardens - Landscaping


  • B.A., University of Iowa
  • M.Div., Union Theological Seminary
  • M.I.A., Columbia University
  • Ph.D., Union Theological Seminary

Research Interests

  • Origins of race and racial constructs
  • Mass imprisonment
  • Religious ethics

Courses Taught

  • Introduction to Peace and Justice Studies
  • Critical Race Theory
  • Race and the Politics of Crime

Crews and Other Activities

  • Partners in Education at Swannanoa Correctional Center for Women
  • Peace and Justice Studies Program
  • Africana Studies Program

Contact Dr. Vesely-Flad

Jensen 302
WWC CPO 6225

PO Box 9000

Asheville, NC 28815-9000